Dili, June 1st, 2021 – His Excellency the Prime Minister, Taur Matan Ruak, accompanied by the Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Fidelis Manuel Leite Magalhães, received in audience, this Tuesday morning, at the official residence, in the Farol district, the Former President of the Republic and Nobel Peace Laureate, Dr. José Ramos Horta, for an exchange of opinions on the fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, or the COVID-19 pandemic, and in particular on the national immunization campaign against COVID-19, which is underway.
After the hearing, the Former President of the Republic, José Ramos Horta, explained that he agrees with the Prime Minister’s decision to allow those who already have the complete vaccination, in other words, those who have already received the two doses of the vaccine, to circulate freely within the national territory, without the obligation to do new screening tests, because these people will already have the immunity of about 90%, not representing the danger of transmission to other people. The Former President suggested, however, that the directives to continue wearing the mask and practicing social distancing should be maintained.
“I came here to pay a short visit to Mr. Prime Minister and Dr. Fidelis Magalhães, Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. We talked about COVID-19 and the vaccine. Prime Minister knows that during the last 9 weeks I have been making several efforts, behind the scenes, to mobilize more vaccines, so that we can be successful and prevent the pandemic from increasing in Timor-Leste. For this, we need to accelerate vaccination, because this pandemic is getting worse in India, Nepal and now in Malaysia. You can see from yesterday’s and today’s reports that Malaysia is much worse. India is our neighbor. This new wave has already entered Thailand, it has already entered Indonesia, so we must speed up the vaccination, and I was happy to hear the doctors and technicians who are vaccinating saying that they have already managed to vaccinate up to 4,000 or more people a day. This is very good! It means that soon we may have 80% of the population vaccinated. There is no other form of prevention for this disease. The scientific answer from medicine is the vaccine, and for us to continue to wear masks and practice physical distancing. Furthermore, I came to tell the Prime Minister that I agree with his decision to allow those who have already had two doses of the vaccine to move freely within the country. The Government did not take this decision lightly”.
His Excellency the Former President of the Republic added that he has been constantly following the news about the spread of COVID-19 and vaccines, and has consulted with several scientists from Israel and Germany about COVID-19, who confirmed that the AstraZeneca vaccine is 90% effective in protecting people who are vaccinated with the two doses.
Ramos Horta also pointed out that he suggested to the Prime Minister to focus the vaccination on small businessmen, such as taxi drivers, microlete drivers, bus and minibusses drivers, and also truck drivers, to facilitate the small business economy, so that they can circulate again because when these groups have the full vaccination, it means that the wheel of the small economy can rotate normally again, and the Prime Minister also agreed with this idea.
“I also told the Prime Minister that the Government’s initiative is good, because if our street vendors and drivers of taxis, microletes, buses and minibusses, and also cargo trucks are vaccinated, then our economy starts moving, street vendors can move freely. And I ask the favor that, instead of just pursuing the program that the Government had established, vaccinating those who have priority, the Government should also give priority to the street vendors and drivers, or the Taibessi market traders. If the Government can go to Taibessi to vaccinate everyone who lives there, this means that in the short term the rural economy and small economy can start circulating again. For example, a short time ago I went to Atabae. As I used to do, I used to stop there, at the small roadside stalls, to buy things. But now they are almost all empty. The restaurants near Loes are also empty. The people who used to sell fruit and vegetables at the roadside are almost nowhere to be seen, there is only a very small number. I stop to buy, why? Because confinement is killing our economy. So, if there are vaccines, we will give priority to the productive sector, the street vendors, taxi drivers, and drivers of other transport, like those who come from Maubisse or Viqueque, for example, so that they can circulate freely and safely. His Excellency the Prime Minister has agreed to this idea, and will look into it with the technicians to see how it can be implemented.”